5 things I’m thinking about

Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Many have done this already. Here’s 5 of mine (sort-of). Bit of a scratchpad as don’t have much time for writing in length these days. Half-formed thoughts. But that’s the point. Right? No?

Oh well.

  • “Internet of things” ubicomp as a ‘lost future’ vs a world of glowing rectangles. This is a big deal for me a (and our little company) as I/we have been thinking about the former for years now, and believe that being in the world is a net Good Thing – and will win out. At the moment it seems like most of us (myself included) are voting with out feet for a world where our attention is consumed by glowing rectangles that live in our pockets, on our laps, in our houses and increasingly on the facades of our towns and cities. The seemingly-manifest-destiny of manufacturing and sourcing economics plays a huge role here – unseen and perhaps un-engaged with by most interaction designers. The world-factory is tooled for glowing rectangles of Cupertino’s design for quite some years. Aaaand of course our sociotechnical futures aren’t ever so neat – a gestalt of the two will probably emerge. At least until we hit Peak Indium. Which leads me to…
  • Going beyond PeakX: as a way of thinking = throw up hands and say hey-ho, that’s that then, isn’t everything complicated and terrible! Aren’t we wicked! There’s nothing to be done. How about ‘precious X’? ‘Resilient X’? ‘Chronodynamic design’ was something prententious that I wrote down a while back on a post-it, suggesting a Loewy-esque aesthetic celebration of an object’s resilience through time. Although at first blush, this might just be vernacular design – it might have legs as a more spectacular-vernacular. The High-Viridian Aesthetic. Moving beyond “Resource Constraints = design”, to source of ornament, cultural-invention, semantic-wealth. Charles & Ray Eames’s definition of the act of design still rings like a bell: do the best, for the most, with the least. Rhys, Raph and others work on Homegrown remains inspiring. I like Adaptive Path’s (at least that’s where I heard it first) conceit of ‘constraint-storming‘. Of course, most of the 1st-world isn’t even thinking about PeakX yet, and we don’t feel the pinch until we feel the pinch, so yeah. Anyway. I probably need to re-read “In The Bubble”, and wear a “John Thackara Was Right” (hair)t-shirt…
  • SpaceTime as a design material. Slow/long services. Still not done anything with it. Want to. Maybe/probably in an app context.
  • The boiling frog of population shock. More is different. Older is different. We don’t seem to get that. Many of our western/northern cultural tropes/beliefs/ways-of-living are based in the 18/19th century when world population was below 1 billion. We still believe it’s like in Britain, and it’ll kill us. Y’know – village green romanticism. We’re probably going to plateau at 10 billion in a couple of decades. We need a way to discuss the bigger/different crew of SpaceShipEarth without it sounding sinister. Permafutures not middle-class, ‘organic’, austerity-nostalgia that will only work for a less-crowded planet. I think it’s kind of exciting. 10 billion minds.
  • The longish-now of me. This is a bit self-centred to say the least. I’m going to be 40 soon. I find myself thinking about how to become a sustainable/resilient 50 year old. That is – well – 50 might be halfway through. Hell, it might be a third of the way through my life… I’ve been very lucky for the past 20 years. What the hell am I going to do with all that time? How am I going to pay my way? How do I stay involved and useful? More making? More teaching? Maybe.

If I could cheat and have six things I’m thinking about I’d say turning tablet computers into The Primer. But, then, I’m always thinking about the Primer, and Maneki Neko. So they don’t count.

Also, I just finished Anathem and it blew my mind. Between it, “Galileo’s Dream” and Ted Chiang’s “Story of your life” there’s something brewing I’m a bit scared to think about to hard in case I end up rocking and drooling. So. Yeah. A mess of things.

7 comments
  1. David Burrows said:

    Chiang is the undiscovered master of modern sci-fi but was left cold by Anathem, care to elaborate? Caught between “Emperors New Clothes” and “Did I just miss the whole point of that tome?”

  2. Pingback: O'Reilly Radar

  3. Pingback: 5 Things I’m Thinking About « Frank Gilroy

  4. Hugh Gage said:

    “At the moment it seems like most of us (myself included) are voting with out feet for a world where our attention is consumed by glowing rectangles that live in our pockets…”

    Suggest de-emphasising the glowing rectangle in your pocket by downgrading it to something that delivers the essentials instead of something that delivers an increasing array of “entertainment”. Then learn to look around you and absorb your surroundings. At the very least it will stop the neck ache and prevent you from walking into stationary objects.

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